An investigative report conducted by The Gambian government has revealed that the brother of the Director General of the Food Safety and Quality Authority Pa Musa Jallow has allegedly threatened to report Ms. Zeinba Jallow’s Personal Assistant to her sister Ms. Jallow, after his request to be supplied fuel was denied. “That DG’s brother (Pa Musa) called the Office on 27th July 2018 requesting for fuel to be issued to him, when his request was refused, he threatened to tell the DG that her staff lacks training. During the interview, the DG acknowledged responding to a text message sent to her by her personal assistant concerning Pa Musa’s request for fuel. Find attached copies of the text message on appendix C and conveyance of the fuel in appendix D,” the report revealed.
The investigation report entitled: “ FOOD SAFETY AND QUALITY AUTHORITY OF THE GAMBIA (FSQA) FINAL INVESTIGATION REPORT DECEMBER 2019” also revealed that DG Jallow’s brother Pa Musa, has been driving her official car at night; at non-official hours. Mrs. Jallow’s official car was also being used to transport her sister in-law’s children from home to school and from school.
“That DG’s brother has been seen driving her car on many occasions very late at night. During the interview, the DG acknowledged that her brother Pa Musa used to drive her official car at night. She questioned if there was anything wrong with that. That the Chief Driver (Abou Njie) has been using the Office car to take DG’s sister in-law’s children from home to school and from school to home for more than 6 months. The DG said she was informed about this by her personal assistant and she tried to ask the chief driver about it, but he kept on avoiding her for one month. The DG failed to tell the Committee of Inquiry what action she took against the chief driver when she finally saw him,” the investigators intimated.
The investigation was carried out by government agencies, including the Ombudsman, and Gambia’s newly formed Human Rights Center. Ms. Jallow’s Personnel Assistant was recently fired together with nine other staffers, even though the government approved investigation committee had warned against any form of retaliation against the staff, who had signed a petition against their boss.
“That in July 2019, a general staff meeting was summoned by the HR Manager through a memo highlighting the items to be discussed. However, during the said meeting, the DG said it was meant for briefing and that she was the only person who would talk and no one else. The Committee of Inquiry’s position is that the DG should have allowed the staff to express their views during the meeting, as they were informed through a memo that the agenda of the meeting would cover general staff matters. Find attached the shared memo for your perusal on appendix E;” the report revealed.
The investigation body had made the below recommendations:
The analyses of the findings and discoveries have been juxtaposed with the provisions of the FSQA Act 2011, Staff Service Rules of FSQA and other fundamental laws or guidelines of government to arrive at recommendations.
1 A Scheme of Service should be developed as soon as possible as its operationalization will guard against patronage in recruitment and promotions;
2 DG’s family should refrain from using the Authority’s vehicles forthwith. Even DG’s official car should not be driven by a family member who is not a staff especially late hours at night;
3 None of the petitioners should be punished or disadvantaged for signing a petition. They should not be discriminated during postings or promotions. The Board should ensure that there is no retaliation, victimization or punishment against the petitioners for filing the petition against the DG. Everybody has the right to file a petition, as stipulated under section 25 of the 1997 Constitution of the Gambia;
4 Considering the conduct of Chief Driver Abou Njie to be gross misconduct, he deserves appropriate disciplinary action of demotion for conniving with DG’s family members by withdrawing Office vehicles from the field while work was going on and using the Office vehicle to transport DG’s brother’s children to and from school for 6 months;
5 For National Interest, the Board should ensure that the expired MoUs for the Ministry of Health and Fisheries are revised and agreed. The Board should further ensure an MoU is signed with any Government Institution considered relevant to Food Safety business. Despite the recent staff deployment, FSQA does not have the requisite staff to cover the entire country appropriately. In view of the above and given the provision in section 45 of the FSQA Act 2011, it is the responsibility of the Board to ensure that this fulfilled;
6 DG’s relationship with majority of the staff is considered unpleasant. As such, this will greatly affect productivity. The Board should be proactive and meet the staff periodically and know their concerns to avoid a repetition of petitions without the Board being aware. The staff should be allowed to lodge complaints to the Board through the Chairman when they are not satisfied with the handling of their complaints by their heads of departments and the DG;
7 The Board should be strong and take its role as prescribed by the Act so that staff will have trust and confidence in the Board and not think the DG dictates and controls the Board;
8 DG should desist from borrowing money from Accounts. Since the DG refused to respond to the Committee of Inquiry’s questions concerning the D40, 000 and other amounts she has been alleged to have requested and received for corporate social responsibility, the Board should ask her to account for the money;
9 DG should refrain from taking fuel that is different from her monthly allocation The Board should ask the DG to account for the different amounts given to her in the form of fuel coupons without authorization even though she had already been given her monthly fuel allocation;
10 Both HR Manager and Procurement Officer should be recruited as soon as possible and that all procurement matters including purchase of air tickets be accorded to the Procurement Officer as per the requirements of the GPPA;
11 The Act should be revised to accommodate Deputy Director General position;
12 All vacancies must be approved by the Board and the vacancy announcement be given enough time for all qualified interested Gambians to be given the opportunity. Furthermore, the advertisement should be done in at least three different papers with the same period of time;
13 The Board should ensure Offices and accommodation are provided for staff redeployed outside the main office. The Board is further advised to visit all duty stations where FSQA staff are present and observe their working environment and conditions;
14 Staff must be given tools to work with including desktops and laptops as soon as possible in a bid to improve service delivery, efficiency and effectiveness;
15 All decisions on appointments, promotions and dismissals of Officers in categories I and II should be indicated in the minutes of Board meetings;
16 The Board Chairman should sign all letters of appointment, promotion and dismissal of the staff in grades I and II that the Board is required to appoint, as was done by the first Chairperson of FSQA Mr Muhammed Sillah;
17 The Board should ensure that minutes of Board meetings are produced and provided to the Board members not later than one month after the meeting and all the minutes are signed by all the members present at the meeting. This is to avoid the concern raised by the former Board Chairman Dr. Bully Sanyang;
18 The Board should ask the DG to produce the air ticket she claimed to have bought and was refunded the money by the FSQA for one of her travels which cost the FSQA D168,000;
19 The Board should also ensure that the D40, 000 the DG borrowed from FSQA is paid and find out from her why she has delayed the payment of the money since February 2019;
20 The Board should ensure that the DG pays the extra 5 days per diem she claimed without authorization during one of her trips abroad when she was given only 10 days’ clearance instead of 15 days;
21 If all the financial allegations against the DG are found to be true, the DG’s actions will be considered fraudulent and a gross misconduct. The Board should therefore take appropriate disciplinary action against her; and
22 There should be easy communication between the staff, the Director General and the Board concerning any matter of the institution. The staff should have access to the DG to voice out their grievances and should take all means to give audience to the staff and shall encourage discussions in order to address the issue. Where the two parties could not settle the matter, it may be forwarded to the Board to address it.
In receiving the complaint, the Board shall take all necessary action to settle the matter.
Where members of staff infringe any part of the Service Rules, the DG shall take necessary action to address the issue in accordance with the Service Rules. Where the DG fails to settle the matter, he/she shall put the issue before the Board and the Board shall take necessary action to address the issues.
Attempts to reach Pa Musa Jallow and her sister Zeinab Jallow for comment proved futile.